The St Lawrence Gap Boardwalk will be repaired as a matter of urgency. So says Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy.
His comments were made at the conclusion of a tour and consultation with stakeholders of The Gap recently.
In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Sealy said the upgrades were in keeping with the ministry’s Ten-Point Tourism Plan and that over a period other infrastructural upgrades would be implemented.
Explaining the rationale for the informal tour and consultation, Sealy said: “St Lawrence Gap is a very essential element in our whole tourism offerings . . . . It is a lively spot, but we have to look at what we can do to bring more life to The Gap, to enhance the tourist experience and the economic experience for the players.”
He noted that the tour had given him the opportunity to meet the players, discuss issues with them, and witness their concerns first-hand.
“There are some intractable problems that we will try to resolve to enhance the whole experience; not only during the night but also when The Gap comes alive during the day,” he added.
The minister outlined some of the challenges, including the “age-old issue of harassment, the question of lighting, drainage, and the need to have parking addressed”.
“In the case of the boardwalk at the northern end, we will do some immediate repairs. We are also coming up with a maintenance plan and ways to address the issues that were raised, such as harassment and lighting,” he stated.
He continued: “Some of these problems are not new, but it is still good to get a feel for them. All the key institutions were represented at the consultation, so that we could put into action some of the things that could be resolved immediately.”
Although the minister mainly reviewed The Gap’s challenges, he also acknowledged that progress was being made, and lauded stakeholders for their commitment.
“It was also very encouraging to see that a fair amount of work is going into The Gap. People are investing in repairs; one major restaurant is undergoing extensive repairs; and two nightclubs and a small wayside bar are completely being refurbished. That is a good sign. People are confident in the future to be doing that kind of thing,” he contended.
Sealy also addressed the possibility of St Lawrence Gap opening for 24 hours, and suggested that appropriate products and services would need to be designed to create such an experience.
Pointing out that longer opening hours did not necessarily mean a noisier district, he reasoned: “Opening 24 hours does not mean we have loud music 24 hours; you can still have eating and vending opportunities with background music. The whole idea is to have a range of experiences in The Gap.”
Also on the tour were Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner; president of the Barbados Tourism Authority, Urban Cumberbatch; representative of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Sue Springer; president of the Millennium Dreammakers Foundation, Hal Austin; and officials of the Ministry of Tourism, the Drainage Division, and the Ministry of Transport and Works. (BGIS)